Acknowledge the Sins of the Forefathers
Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and others understood that God wanted them to agree with Him about the iniquities of their parents and purpose to not continue them. These men of God acknowledged the iniquities of their fathers when they confessed their sins:
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In the days when Nehemiah worked to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Ezra the priest gathered the people together and read to them out of the Law of God. When they realized how far they had strayed from God’s commandments, they repented: “And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers” (Nehemiah 9:2).
When Jeremiah realized that God’s hand of judgment was upon the land of Judah, he acknowledged the iniquities of their forefathers. He prayed, “We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee” (Jeremiah 14:20).
When Daniel discerned by the Scriptures that it was time for Israel to be restored to the land, he sought the Lord’s forgiveness through prayer and supplication, with fasting. He prayed, “O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us” (Daniel 9:16).
Recognize Personal Responsibility
As we acknowledge the sins of our forefathers, we must also accept personal responsibility for our own sins. For example, a son cannot blame his father for his own sin, nor can a father blame his son. God will deal with each person on the merits of his own actions.
“In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge” (Jeremiah 31:29–30).
This truth brings clarification to God’s warnings about visiting iniquity on future generations, which Jeremiah repeats in the next chapter: “Thou showest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name, great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 32:18–19).
Generational iniquities follow the laws of the harvest: we reap what we sow, we reap where we sow, we reap more than we sow, and we reap in a different season than we sow.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7–8).
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